Family Thrushes (Turdidae)

Least Concern

Tibetan Blackbird (Turdus maximus)


French: Merle de l’Himalaya German: Tibetamsel Spanish: Mirlo del Himalaya

Merula maxima


, 1881,



Formerly treated as a race of T. merula, but differs in several characters, including vague hooded appearance (1), no yellow eyering (2), juvenile plumage (irregular barring below) and, most notably, in song (shorter phrase length, lower number of notes per phrase, lack of whistles and trills; total 6)#R; proves to belong in distant clade#R. Supposed E race buddae based only on slightly shorter bill, but this is not constant. Monotypic.

What do (1) and (2) mean? Learn more about the scoring system.

Locally in Himalayas from N Pakistan E to Nepal, NE India (N Arunachal Pradesh) and SE Tibet; non-breeding also at lower altitudes.

Descriptive notes

23–28 cm. Both sexes may have subtle hooded appearance. Male is brownish-black, with stronger black head, breast, wings and tail; bill dull orange-yellow; legs dark.... read more


Song, from ridgetop, rock or, if available, tree, a series of phrases composed of rapid metallic... read more


Highly adapted to subalpine environment. Breeds in bushy patches of dwarf juniper (Juniperus... read more

Food and feeding

Earthworms (in Hazara, Pakistan, a very short-bodied dark red species), molluscs, insects including caterpillars, small lizards, fruits,... read more


May–Jul, mostly Jun to early Jul; in Tibet, peak laying mid-May to mid-Jun. Nest a bulky but compact cup with some mud, lined with... read more


Descends to slightly lower elevations in winter.

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened. Patchily scarce to frequent in N Pakistan; locally common in Kashmir; very sparse in E of range. Reports from Sikkim unconfirmed. In study in China,... read more

Recommended citation

Collar, N. (2020). Tibetan Blackbird (Turdus maximus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 19 February 2020).